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Higher Education and Second Language Learning

Promoting Self-Directed Learning in New Technological and Educational Contexts

Rosario Hernandez and Paul Rankin

This volume explores the challenges involved in facilitating student learning of second languages at university level. Easy access to information and communication technologies inside and outside the classroom, alongside an increasing tendency for students to play an active role in shaping their own learning, are having a significant impact on second language learning and teaching in the twenty-first century. Although several recent publications have focused on technologies in education and student-centred learning, there has been very little previous research into how second languages are learnt within universities. This book aims to support teachers of second languages in higher education by setting out practical ideas that can be implemented in everyday contexts, as well as ensuring that pedagogical practice is underpinned by relevant theoretical frameworks.
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8 Forums and Chats to Learn Languages: Functions, Types and Uses



8  Forums and Chats to Learn Languages: Functions, Types and Uses

Online written interaction

Nowadays, we spend so much of our time reading and writing email messages, posts on social network timelines, chats, forum messages, text messages and other on-the-spot writing (WhatsApp, Line). This type of interactive writing is usually quite short, quite spontaneous and ubiquitous, and we use it in all sorts of tasks and situations, in personal and job-related matters. We prefer it to the emerging technology of voice analysis and synthesis (Siri), which is not yet widely accepted. In higher education, we also use these forms of writing as a learning tool and a management and planning tool, with students and with the teaching staff, in language courses just as in any other courses.

It is not easy to draw a clear line between each of these written genres or means of communication. With the speed of development and fierce competition between technology companies, apps have gradually accumulated the same sets of features, so that in the end they are all very similar. On the personal level, we may differentiate between email (used since the early days of Internet) and the more recent texting and WhatsApp messages or the exchanges on Facebook or Twitter. We each have a personal history with these applications, and with their users, topics and situations, therefore we get into a habit of using each one in a given way.

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